10 sci-fi anime that serve as cautionary tales (and what they warn about)


Science fiction has always been far enough removed from reality to be fiction, but close enough to teach us about the real dangers of the abuse of science. Whether motivated by good intentions or driven by crazed desires for power, anime characters often push their science too far or too fast, and the result is often disastrous.

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Whether these findings are limited to a few people or shake the foundations of the universe and reality, they can all serve as lessons for viewers. They warn the real world against taking ambition into dangerous places and teach us to beware of power that falls into the wrong hands.

ten Serial Experiments Lain: blurring the lines between fiction and reality

Angry Lain in the Lain Serial Experiments

Fear of technology is often unwarranted, but never totally unjustified. After all, one of mankind’s greatest fears is the unknown. Lain series experiments was created at a time when the internet was still booming, where people sometimes feared the new ethereal technology. Lain series experiments shows not only what fear of the unknown can push people to do, but also how the virtual can take precedence over reality if one is not too careful, because Lain is slowly absorbed by Wired, the Internet version of the show.

9 Elfen lied: experience decides to teach us a lesson

Angry Lucy in Elfen Lied

Forced scientific experimentation on a living being is never justifiable. Scientists from Elf lied are experimenting on living creatures called Diclonius, a human species of consciousness and form, except for the invisible appendages on their backs which are stronger, longer and faster than any human arm. Lucy, one of these creatures, manages to escape her confinement and takes revenge on these scientists.

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As bloody as her outburst is, the viewer can’t help but sympathize with her. Science is no excuse for experimenting on sentient living creatures against their will. Lucy makes sure they and everyone else realize it.

8 Made in Abyss: here there are monsters

Bondrewd in Made in Abyss

Contact with the unusual or the unknown through study or exploration can be very rewarding, but it can also be extremely dangerous. It can put lives in instant danger or turn people into horrible beings, outwardly or inwardly. In Crafted in the Abyss, Riko and Reg embark on an adventure to find Riko’s mother, who has traveled deep in the legendary Abyss. While they encounter dangers along the way, they still manage to get away with it unscathed, until suddenly they don’t.

From there, not only is the danger of their adventure now clearly established, but they see the true horror of the Abyss. Whether they’ve grown unrecognizable like Mitty or twisted in their hearts like Bondrewd, the Abyss creates monsters like no one could have imagined.

7 Neon Genesis Evangelion: playing God never went well for humanity

Rei in capsule in Neon Genesis Evangelion

In the complex story of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the spirits behind NERV and SEELE became aware of the prophecies regarding the angels visiting Earth and put in place a plan to pursue their own goals within this predicted framework. They are trying to bring humanity to a new plane of existence, a new evolution. They want to set up the “Human Instrumentality Project”, in the hope of ending conflicts between humans by turning them into a single consciousness. They trample on human autonomy and more or less kill all of humanity through their efforts to play God.

6 Psycho-Pass: blurring the line between science and law

Akane conversing in Psycho Pass

As science and law enforcement inevitably overlap, the line between the two must be drawn. In Psycho-Pass, the powers in power have set up a system that allows them to detect potential crimes before they happen, after which they send their executors to stop the crimes or bring justice to the criminals involved.

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The Sybil system consists of an interconnected consciousness formed through living human brains, a monstrous creation in itself, which watches over every citizen and attributes criminal potential to each. The government in Psycho-Pass has used technology to invade the very thoughts of its citizens, labeling them criminals based on their criminal potential before they even take criminal action.

5 Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song Highlights Humanity’s Ongoing Concerns About AI

Vivy Fight Form by Vivy Fluorite Eyes Song

The dangers of AI still haunt the world. People fear that one day AIs will be smart and powerful enough to compete with humanity. In Vivy: The Fluorite Eye Song, AIs do just that. One day they just start attacking humans, and a large part of the human race is slaughtered as they go about their daily business before any sort of defense can be mounted against the machines.

Fortunately for the characters in this story, just like in The Terminator, technology has advanced to a point where time travel is possible, and they can go back in time to try and undo the events that led to this tragedy. But in the real world, things might not be that convenient. Thus, the human race continues to view AI with caution.

4 Steins; Gate: Jumping through time is riskier than we can understand

Rintaro Sad from SteinsGate

The human race may never be able to time travel. But if such a feat is ever accomplished, people should make sure that all the risks of such actions are known before taking the first leap. As in most time travel accounts, Rintaro and his compatriots from Steins; Gate alter the past and affect the present, with disastrous effects and at great personal cost.

Rintaro will attempt to alter the past to save one person who in turn causes the death of another, after which he has to repeat the process for that person, as he seeks the optimal outcome where everyone survives. Ultimately, he is able to find that possibility. The rest of us in the real world might not be so lucky if that ever happened.

3 Trigun: mega weapons come with mega responsibility

Vash the stampede of Trigun

Trigoun is about a mysterious gunslinger named Vash who never wants to kill anyone. He found himself living on a desert planet with the remains of humanity who managed to survive a space mission sabotaged 150 years ago. His brother, Knives, planned the sabotage for the purpose of killing all humans aboard the spaceships, as he considers them inferior to Vash and himself.

With this attempt partially thwarted, Knives searches for a new way to exterminate humanity, ultimately creating two revolver-style weapons that can morph into mega-weapons, one for himself and one for Vash. Mega-weapons in the hands of those who dream of superiority are always a danger to humanity, anywhere.

2 Guilty crown: the cure is sometimes worse than the disease

Shu and Inori Hug in Guilty Crown

When the Apocalypse virus is unleashed on Japan in Guilty crown, the government is taking drastic measures to prevent the spread, even resorting to appealing to a power outside the GHQ to aid in its efforts. As the virus is suppressed for a while, the GHQ eventually becomes the power in Japan, which is opposed only by the rebel group Funeral Parlor.

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Through a series of battles, betrayals, heroism and sacrifice, the virus is finally destroyed and those who are responsible for its spread are defeated. This anime is a particularly apt reminder that, whatever the circumstances, those in power should measure their response to threats, lest they make matters worse by jumping out of fear before realizing the reality of the situation.

1 Cowboy Bebop: the dangers of rushing new technologies

Cowboy Bebop Main Actors

Rushing to use a new technology or any new creation without being sure of its effects or risks is dangerous. In Cowboy Bebop, the solar system is in crisis, as much of the Earth’s surface has been devastated by meteors, forcing its inhabitants to seek other places to live and other livelihoods once there. The damage was caused by the effects of an accident with a hyperspace portal device, a new invention designed to dramatically speed up space travel and exploration. But the experiment goes awry and causes damage to the neighboring Moon, which subsequently sets off a chain of events that marks the Earth.

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